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OCEANIQUE_Would The LIght Hold Me_COVER.jpg
Would the Light Hold Me
(2023 - self release - AUS)

LISTEN and BUY the physical CD:

With a reverence to giant talents like The Unthanks this comes to my attention and blows in like a hurricane over my head for one of the most amazing full releases I have ever heard. Twins from Melbourne, Australia, these sisters break your heart, make you shed tears, catch your weakness by the bedside, and stun the aural senses for any true listener of grand (aka GREAT) music. I melted the moment the disc began and was a puddle of transported newborn glow worm from there on. And how I still glow from this delicate masterpiece.

I once collected all the gorgeous 'Heavenly Voices' series and this belongs not only to this summit of talent but to a new plateau out in the undiscovered universe. Also coming to mind (and recommended by Oceanique) is another female vocal rooted outfit  Charm of Finches (also from Australia), which will equally sweep over even a stone god.  But to this debut album from 2023 is stunning in its effortless beauty, all the atmosphere created within and around it, and then often simmering in the most delicate sublime warmth ever. And hands down, these twin sisters are a one of a kind act. The telepathic ability they have with each other is obvious, and comes across instantly. Angelic flawless harmonies, swaying in an peaceful island hammock with piano, sometimes sparse arrangements  yet with equal rich instrumentation all to force a tear down the cheek of the listener. This is a constant part of 'Would the Light Hold Me' in all it's glory.  

The full list of credits are:
Music and Lyrics - Maddy and Jess Houston
Produced, Recorded and Mixed - James Newhouse
Mastered - William Bowden
Vocals and Acoustic Guitar - Maddy
Vocals, Piano - Jess
Wurlitzer on tracks 1, 5 & 10 and Harmonium on track 1 - Jess
Double Bass on track 1, 2 & 3 - Lukas Drinkwater
Backing Vocals on tracks 3 & 5 and Bass on track 3, 4, 6, 7 & 11 – James Newhouse
Drums, Percussion, guitar and - James Newhouse  

As you can see, it appears that Maddy and Jess Houston (the twin sisters) could make another album all their own, and it would still be magic in a similar way. Big terms like classic, unreal, and spell binding are appropriate, but add drop dead gorgeous, extraordinary, unbelievable, and out of this world would be clearly deserved accolades. The first piece on the album is partly a cappella, then with gentle combination of both acoustic and reserved electric guitars, along with subtle strings, all in a fusion of folk/tropical/alt country styling, so sweet to the ears you know you are hooked from the beginning. The sparseness only frames the two sister's vocal intimacy and mastery. Occasional hand percussion also goes a green mile to enhance the moment by moment delights.

Oddly, I do not hear a massive amount of hurt in this album less it be 'Time Passes' (track #4) and 'Build A Wall'- Track #7). What I do hear is a clear fresh youthful position on life and a vivid naked ethereal affection to each note these special twins lay down for the world to listen to. I must give distinction to the melancholy verses sad or deep hurt, as this unforgettable album does have a cocoon of that quasi haunting delivery of lyrics that can be interpreted in several ways. All in a meadow of both subtle pastels and all the rest could be an antique black and white photo of emotions larger than life itself. Innocence in a faint sheep's wool moonlight, strong enough to surprise the unaware wolf at the ambush. Oceanique can make you tremble with warm memories, and drop you to your knees with invocation. MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED and certainly a TOP CHOICE of mine for the 2023 list.
  ©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 6 - 20 - 2023

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